Probate Process From A-Z
Probate is the formal legal process during which a court oversees the administration of a deceased person’s estate. If there is a will, then its authenticity must be proven and its instructions must be interpreted. If there is not a will, then all remaining assets will be distributed in accordance with California’s intestate succession laws.
Probate is notoriously complex. We want to ensure that you understand your rights and responsibilities. In this article, our San Diego probate law attorney provides an overview of California’s probate process from start to finish. If you have any specific probate questions, please call our law office for immediate assistance.
Probate in California: From Beginning to End1. File a Petition for Probate
In California, the probate process starts with the filing of the appropriate paperwork. You should use form DE-111 (Petition For Probate). This form can be used to:
- Petition for Probate of Will and for Letters Testamentary (Will); and
- Petition for Letters of Administration (No Will).
Depending on the specific circumstances of the probate case, the form DE-111 should be filed by the executor named in the will or, if no executor is appointed, a personal representative of the deceased.2. Notify Interested Parties
The executor or personal representative has the legal responsibility to notify all interested parties that the probate process is starting. Under California law, the petitioner must give express notice to anyone who has a right to a portion of the estate—including surviving family members who are not named in the will. In general, a notice is also published in a local newspaper.3. Prove the Validity of the Will
Assuming there is a will, the authenticity must be verified. In many cases, proving the will is relatively straightforward. There is no dispute about its validity. That being said, a will may be challenged on many different grounds, including fraud/forgery, multiple conflicting wills, and undue influence.4. Identify and Collect Assets
The executor or personal representative should conduct a comprehensive inventory of the deceased’s assets and liabilities. Among other things, the inventory should include:
- Real estate;
- Investment accounts;
- Cash holdings; and
- Personal property.
Before an estate can be finalized in California, all outstanding creditor claims must be settled. These bills can come in a wide range of different forms. If there are any questions about the validity of a creditor’s claim, the probate court may be relied upon to make a decision.6. Handle Any Final Tax Issues
The executor is responsible for handing any final tax taxes. In many cases, this means filing a final tax return with the IRS and/or the California Franchise Tax Board. Though there may be other tax issues. As an example, a large estate may have estate tax liability.7. File a Petition for Final Distribution
The final step in the probate process is the Petition for Final Distribution. It is the part of the process during which the estate is closed and property/assets are transferred to the appropriate heirs. In general, it takes somewhere between six months and one year to get through probate. Though, there are exceptions in both directions.
Contact Our San Diego Probate Lawyer Today
At The Law Office of Kris Mukherji, our California probate attorney has the knowledge, experience, and legal expertise that you can count on for results. If you have specific questions about the probate process, we are here to get you answers. Contact our firm today for a strictly confidential initial consultation. With an office in San Diego, we provide probate late services throughout the region, including in Chula Vista, National City, El Cajon, Escondido, and Encinitas.